High-end grocer Booths has seen its sales and profits fall as a result of wage and cost inflation.
Sales at the supermarket fell 3.2% to £287.3m in the year to 1 April 2023, according to accounts published at Companies House. The regional grocer blamed rising costs, ongoing inflation and cost of living challenges as being behind the fall.
Overall its gross margin slipped by more than 2% to 10.3% as it absorbed higher wages and inflation, which caused gross profits to fall 19.3% to £29.7m.
Despite the slowdown the supermarket said that performance remained in line with internal expectations. Executive chairman Edwin Booth had previously warned during last year’s results that future financial performance could slip as the “extraordinary” effects of Covid-19 on shopping habits wore off.
The business accounted half of the trading decline to a non-comparable 53rd trading week during the last financial period, and said that trading “continues to increase” on a like for like basis with pre-pandemic levels.
Sales during its crucial Christmas period - the three weeks to 31 December 2022 - were up 2.8%. Sales from its B2B channels – which include listings in Amazon Fresh stores and Amazon online – also grew marginally to £11.5m, from £11.2m the year before.
Booths began a major overhaul of its base sales, stock system and infrastructure during the year, the first phase of which is set to be completed by March 2025. It also refurbished two of its stores, in Kendal and Windermere, with a third at Clitheroe due to be completed ahead of the Christmas trading period.
It includes the refresh and rollout of a new café format Café 1847 as it looks to build its earnings from hospitality across its footprint.
“The continued focus of the team to adapt, improvise and overcome the uncertainties of a challenging market has delivered a solid and sustainable platform for growth,” said Edwin Booth.
“This was achieved by staying true to our purpose, inspiring and nourishing our customers desire for great food and drink. I would like to thank all our Booths colleagues who have remained focused on maintaining Booths as a unique and special retailer, worthy of the title ‘The Good Grocers’.”
Booths has 27 stores across Cumbria, Cheshire, Yorkshire, Greater Manchester and Lancashire.
The family-owned grocer is sometimes referred to as the ‘Waitrose of the north’ as it targets a similar traditionally middle-class shopper. It also adheres to strict animal welfare and quality standards across its largely UK-based supply chain.